HOUSTON -

The birth of Stephanie Creech's third son came without the baby blues of her previous postpartum experiences.

"This has definitely been the easiest recovery that I've had so far," she said.

The secret? Pills made from her own placenta.

"Other cultures have been using the placenta for medicinal purposes for centuries," said Serena Logue, a certified placenta encapsulation specialist.

Advocates say placenta is rich in everything from nutrients, iron, B-12, and other hormones that may help postpartum recovery, including less bleeding, increased energy, and improved milk production. It can be eaten raw, cooked in stew, stir fried, or encapsulated.

"The process takes two days," said . "Then, I place it in a dehydrator where it stays in the client's home overnight and it dehydrates for 11 to 12 hours."

"I don't think there's anything absolutely wrong with it nor do I think it serves any real benefit," countered Dr. Jagjit Khariah, an obstetrician and gynecologist at the Kelsey-Seybold Clinic.

Khariah said there is no credible data supporting the benefits of placenta pills and that he worries about the safety of his patients.

"My fear is that patients who practice this may expose themselves to unnecessary potential infection, and thus getting ill and the last thing we want is a recently new mom to get ill by eating her placenta," he said.

But for believers like Creech, the proof is in the pill.

"If you've had any kind of, especially the blues kind of troubles, I would say it's absolutely worth it," she said.

Placenta encapsulation can cost $150 to $300. Patients must first consult with their hospital to find out its policy on releasing placenta.